It’s my third year in Tokyo and I still get super excited when spring comes. Not only because it means winter is (almost) over, but also because it means cherry blossoms viewing is near!
Whether you’re visiting or living in Japan, a certain level of preparation is important to experience the best hanami outing.
Tips on Cherry Blossoms Viewing in Tokyo
(1) Know the flower and when they bloom.
It is quite easy to mistake plum blossoms with cherry blossoms. They don’t bloom at the same time. Find out the perfect viewing time through this forecast site.
(2)Choose the appropriate park.
There are many parks to choose from and they’re all wonderful and spectacular.
However, I prefer Shinjuku Gyoen because they don’t allow liquor and smoking. I’ve been to some parks that allow these and the crowd does get a bit rowdy. I also don’t want to inhale second hand smoke.
There are also parks like Chidorigafuchi Ryokudo which offers more than just hanami. You could rent a boat and paddle your way into the magical scene. Wait until sundown and the place is lit up. This is one of the most popular parks though so, it is hard to find a place to park your mat.
Inokashira Park is another nice park and once you’re done, you can even go to the zoo with your kids afterwards.
I’ve never been to Toshimaen Amusement Park but I’ve read reviews that it’s a good alternative to your typical hanami viewing.
Ueno, Koganei and Zenpukuji Parks are also great.
Tokyo Midtown is one of the nicest places to view cherry blossoms. They even have a food truck that sells snacks and champagne!
8 parks for you to enjoy!
(3) Bring or buy your hanami arsenal
This is essential in hanami-ing. Where will you sit and enjoy the magnificent view? The ground? No, no, the proper way is to use a mat. It also serves as your reservations in case you want to wake up early and pick the nicest spot at the park and return later in the day with your family amd friends. Yes, everyone will respect your reservations. No one will move your mat or take your belongings. It’s a wonderful place, Japan.
100yen shops sell all kinds of mat so drop by one before you head to your park. Feel free to buy other goodies such as paper plates, plastic spoon and forks, chopsticks, cups, wipes. (I know how wasteful this sounds but let’s not get into it now). There are also mat fasteners so your mat won’t be blown off by strong winds.
3b Food and Drinks
You can make your own bento or buy them in your neighborhood konbini but remember, the nearer it is to the park, the more crowded it will be.
Ubiquitous vending machines found all over the metro. You won’t beed to lug around heavy drinks.
But, if you’re interested in wines, sakes and beers, place them in your water cooler and throw a bag of ice inside.
Some stay an hour, some for hours on end. Some bring games, some bring stories. Bubbles work for Little A.
The ephemeral beauty of sakura…capture and post them on your Instagram account. For a week, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were full of cherry blossoms!
What’s hanami without desserts? Our favorite is Isetan’s depachika to buy these lovely shucreams. Fruits are also available!
This post is late. Hope this helps you in Hanami 2016 (and beyond!)
Happy cherry blossoms viewing!